Criminal Lawyers for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is an offence under section 59 of the NSW Crimes Act.
It carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment in the District Court or 2 years imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine in the Local Court.
It is any physical assault that causes injury that is more than ‘transient or trifling’.
This includes any lasting cuts, redness, swelling or bruising.
The injury does not have to be permanent.
Examples of injuries that may not be enough to constitute actual bodily harm include slight redness or scratching, or minor sprains that go away quickly.
Pleading Not Guilty
You don’t have to plead guilty just because the police papers say so.
In fact, the police ‘facts’ often claim that you caused ‘actual bodily harm’ when the injuries are not serious enough.
If you wish to plead not guilty, it is important for your assault lawyer to fight for the case to be dropped or, if the injuries are not serious enough, to ask for the charge to be reduced to the less serious charge of ‘common assault’.
Your lawyer can have your case dropped or reduced by:
- Obtaining any statements and materials that support your case,
- Writing and advising the prosecution of inconsistencies and other weaknesses in the case against you, including that there is insufficient proof that the injuries constitute ‘actual bodily harm’
- Advising the prosecution that you have a valid defence, and
- Pressing for the withdrawal of the case.
If the prosecution refuses, your criminal lawyer should have a proven track record in winning cases of actual bodily harm and – where there is strong evidence that you did assault someone – getting them reduced to ‘common assault’.
Your assault lawyer can advise you if any of the following defences apply:
This is when you are defending yourself, another person or property from an aggressor or thief.
The most common example is a fight situation when you are being attacked.
This is when you are in an emergency situation and commit the alleged offence to get away.
This is when you are forced to commit the assault after being threatened with injury or death.
If you wish to plead guilty, any of the following penalties may apply:
This means that you are guilty but the court does not impose a criminal conviction upon you.
The court will look a range of matters when deciding whether to grant a ‘section 10’ – including the incident itself, the lead-up to the incident, your general character and your personal circumstances.
You will have a better chance of getting a section 10 if your lawyer has the charge reduced to common assault, and/or if you undertake anger management and obtain character references.
This means that you will have to pay a sum of money.
You will need to pay the fine within 28 days unless you apply at the court office for extra time to pay.
Good behaviour bond
This means that you cannot commit any further offences for the duration of the bond.
The bond may have additional conditions, such as seeing a Community Corrections officer and complying with their directions.
Community service order
This means that you must undertake a specific number of hours of unpaid work over a 12 month period.
The maximum is 500 hours.
Intensive correction order
This means that you come under the supervision of the Department of Corrections and are required to undertake 32 hours of community service work per month.
You may also be required to undertake rehabilitation programs, attend conferences and be subjected to urinalysis and monitoring.
Intensive correction orders can last up to 2 years.
This means that you must generally stay at home for the duration of your sentence, subject to exclusions such as approved work or attending medical appointments or counselling.
Home detention orders can last up to 18 months.
This is when you are sentenced to a period of imprisonment, but are not actually sent to prison as long you comply with any conditions and do not commit any further offences.
Suspended sentences can last up to 2 years.
Full time prison
This is when you are sent to gaol.
Full time imprisonment can only be imposed if no other alternative is appropriate in the circumstances.
Call our experienced criminal lawyers today for a free first appointment where we can discuss your assault occasioning actual bodily harm case and advise you of the best way forward.
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